Advertisers are urging the Federal Trade Commission to abandon a proposal included in the commission's staff privacy report calling for the creation of a "do-not-track" mechanism that would allow consumers to opt out of being tracked on the Web.
In comments filed with the FTC on its draft privacy report, groups representing advertisers and marketers argued that a self-regulatory approach allows for more flexibility to adapt to changing technologies while still enabling online advertising that helps pay for much of the free content on the Internet.
Friday was the deadline for filing comments on the FTC's draft privacy report, which was released December 1, and more than 400 groups provided their input.
In calling for the creation of a do-not-track mechanism, the FTC report said technology has bypassed current self-regulatory approaches. The report also called for companies to build privacy into their products and services, provide adequate security for consumer information, limit collection and retention of data, and provide reasonable procedures to promote data accuracy. The commission left open for further comment whether Congress should pass legislation providing baseline privacy protections.
Many firms now track consumers as they surf the web. The information is used to help target ads at consumers based on their preferences, a concept known as online behavioral advertising.
In its comments on the report, the Interactive Advertising Bureau said while it supports the FTC's "concept of a uniform choice" for online behavioral advertising, the group said a do-not-track mechanism mandated by the federal government is "unnecessary" given the steps online firms are taking on their own to provide consumers with more choices.
"Indeed, IAB is concerned that the 'Do Not Track' proposal unfairly sows consumer distrust of online advertising practices that are widespread and legitimate," the group said in its comments.
The Direct Marketing Association echoed such concerns, saying government intervention is unwarranted.